"Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally" (Jon Kabat-Zinn).
For some mindfulness is a practice and for others it is a way of being. There are theories that we can have anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts in a day. This means that without mindfulness practices we often unconsciously ping pong from one thought to another. We can find ourselves ruminating to excess about situations, experiences, and thoughts, past, present and future. These unconscious mind processes go on all the time and seem to exacerbate worry and promote stress, ensuring that we are distracted and unable to remain in the present moment. We all know that stress can affect our physical health. Prolonged stress causes us to come down with various injuries and ailments and if we do not find a method of reducing this stress or changing our circumstances we can eventually become seriously unwell. Mindfulness helps us to manage ourselves differently, paying attention, being present and letting go, so that we cut across the rumination processes, calming our mind and our body.
Ryan Niemiec in his book on Mindfulness and Character Strengths (2014) discusses various definitions of mindfulness, among these is Jon Kabat Zinn's definition above and the following:
"the self regulation of attention with the use of an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance (Bishop et al, 2004)
"to keep one's attention alive in the present reality" (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1979)
"helps us not to change our thoughts but to relate to our thoughts (and ourselves) in a different way" (Niemiec, 2014)
Mindfulness is not about sitting on a comfy cushion and meditating...although it can include this, it is instead a practice of being aware of your thought processes during any activity throughout the day. Becoming more aware of these thoughts and how they can affect you in any given moment, means that you gradually learn to separate out the more stressful and negative ones, react less, and respond more positively. Mindfulness teaches you to train your mind in a way that helps you to manage life differently. By being more present and consciously aware we increase our resilience to internal thoughts and to external challenges, we become more available to the people we are with and the things that we are doing, we pull out of the incessant cycle of rumination, increasing positive thought processes, improving mental and physical health, creating an upward spiral of positive wellbeing.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction clinics have now been developed all over the world and this is testament to the impact it has on improving health and wellbeing. Whether you are new to mindfulness, or you are already using mindfulness in your daily life, Cate has both training and experience in mindfulness practices and can support you to eliminate stressful habits and create new ones based on mindful living.